Published in: 2019
Anders Wiklöf is Åland’s most successful entrepreneur. His name has reached the Swedish media, often for his record-breaking speeding fines – speeding in his Bentley has cost him around $350k (in Åland, the fine is set according to how much you pay in taxes). The book is about Wiklöf’s path from the workers’ home on Åland to a billionaire (in SEK).
STARTS OUT AS A CAR SALESMAN. In 1970, Wiklöf began his career in the car industry by starting “Bilcenter” as a 23-year-old, which was the first and only one to sell Mercedes on Åland. If was good times in the shipping industry, and many employees had flexible salaries, and those in the cafeteria could earn as much as high-ranking officials. With good incomes, the Ålanders opened their eyes to Mercedes. Buying a car was at that time a major capital investment where the whole family was involved. Therefore, Wiklöf’s store was open in the evening, often until midnight, and he sold more cars after five o’clock than before.
REVENGE ON ÅLANDSBANKEN. When Wiklöf began to make a good profit from the car business in 1972, he bought shares in Ålandsbanken (the bank of Åland). Before he started his car business, he had gone to the bank and asked for start-up capital, but had been abruptly told that he should be grateful they didn’t provide him a loan, since he would lose the money anyhow. The young Wiklöf felt very offended and swore that once the car business was successful, he would accumulate shares in the bank (which is listed on the local stock exchange). In 1979, Wikström had a net worth of FIM 11 million (also around SEK 11 million at the then exchange rate). Over the years, Wiklöf also invested in companies focusing on food and duty-free sales on the Baltic Sea. In 1980, he had bought enough shares in the Bank of Åland to take a seat on the Board.
A PROFITABLE SEJOUR IN BIRKA LINE. In 1986, the same year that he left operational work at Bilcenter, Wiklöf bought into “Birkalinjen” on the Åland Stock Exchange. The whole group was valued lower than what the most recently purchased vessel was worth. Through a bank loan, Wiklöf bought all the shares he came across and quickly became the company’s largest shareholder with a c. 17% of the shares and became chairman of the board. The personal chemistry between the board members did not work, and after a year Wiklöf sold out at a good profit to refocus on the Bank of Åland.
ANDERSUDDE – ART COLLECTION & HOBBY CENTER. Later in life, Wiklöf bought his second summer home on Åland, which he in time would develop into “Andersudde”. There he houses one of the Nordic region’s foremost private art collections, with a focus on Swedish and Finnish turn-of-the-century art. At Andersudde he has also built an arena where he held events and played tennis with Björn Borg.
10 000 BIRTHDAY GUESTS. Wiklöf is a major sponsor of sports as well as culture on Åland. On his birthday, Wiklöf organizes a big party in Mariehamn every year for all the Ålanders and the tourists who happen to be present. He books music artists and has flown in celebrities such as Carola, Björn Borg and Bill Clinton. The birthday party is Åland’s largest event.
ÅLAND 101. Åland is an autonomous part of Finland and the archipelago’s Swedish-language status is protected by international guarantees. There must be no military activity on the islands during peacetime. Åland’s parliament has the right to enact its own provincial laws and Åland has its own flag, its own car registration plates and its own police, but is part of the same tax system as Finland. Åland has 30,000 inhabitants, of which almost 12,000 live in the archipelago’s only city Mariehamn. Finland is Åland’s most important trading partner with 64% of exports and the country also accounts for 40% of the island’s hotel nights.
ÅLAND’S LARGEST CONGLOMERATE. Wiklöf Holding currently comprises of 32 companies operating in the industries logistics, hall construction, helicopter services, property ownership, trade and tourism. In addition, the Group is a large shareholder in the two Åland newspapers and controls 20% of Ålandsbanken. The two Åland newspapers are profitable and only report what is happening on the island. All revenue comes from the paper newspapers and only 2% from the online newspaper. Wiklöf controls 99% of New Åland and together with a business colleague 42% of Tidningen Åland. In 2016, Wiklöf Holding had sales of €346m with an operating profit of €12m. Wiklöf is today 74 years old  and has no plans to step down. He does his business by phone – he does not have a computer or even a calendar. Wiklöf has been married to Rita Wiklöf all her adult life. Anders and Rita does not have any children.